The Benefits of a Password Manager

I have been resisting using a password manager because I was satisfactorily keeping track of all my passwords on my own. But then I listened to a seminar on the benefits of LastPass, and it completely changed my thinking.

Using a password manager improves your security because you are no longer storing passwords in your browser. But here is what really sold me on implementing LastPass:

  • I could access my LastPass password vault from all my devices: my computer, my iPad, and my iPhone.
  • I also could store credit card info and bank account numbers, as well as addresses and phone numbers for easily filling out forms.
  • My family could access my passwords in case of emergency, and vice versa.

LastPass will generate complex passwords for me if I want, but I already have hundreds of passwords and don’t want to have to change all of them. I may take advantage of that feature in the future as I create new accounts.

Importing all of my saved passwords from the Chrome browser into LastPass was relatively easy. However, I also took the time to go through every single account to make sure it was active, give them a user-friendly name where necessary, and categorize them into logical groups (such as Financial, Charities, Dog, etc.)

Getting my family members set up with LastPass was the final step. They were a little resistant at first because they didn’t want to invest the time, but I convinced them that it was important for us to have access to each other’s credentials in case one of us is incapacitated. Of all of us, I think my husband will benefit the most from using LastPass, as he frequently forgets his passwords and has to reset them.

If you’ve been resisting implementing a password manager, I suggest you consider LastPass or one of its competitors. It will take some time investment now, but it will ultimately save you much time and frustration to have your passwords always at your fingertips. And since our digital selves will live beyond us, it behooves us to provide our families with the keys to sorting out our digital lives when we aren’t here to help interpret them.

 

 

Diversifying Your Passwords

There is a scam e-mail that has been going around lately. Perhaps you’ve received it. It warns you that it has been spying on your computer, and that it knows what you’ve been watching for fun (wink, wink). It attempts to blackmail you to prevent your secret from being revealed.

This e-mail is so laughable and so obviously a scam that when I received it yesterday, I simply deleted it. However, there was one piece of information in the e-mail that concerned me. It mentioned one of my actual passwords, as alleged proof that it had been spying on me.

According to an article I read on-line, the sender of this scam finds a (usually defunct) password of yours which is part of some data breach that has been put for sale on the dark web. What bothered me about this password is that it was my default password back in the days before sites started requiring a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. While my newer passwords were more complex, I still had a lot of user accounts on non-essential sites that used that old password.

I went into my password file and discovered that I was still using that password for 68 web sites. Yikes!

Two and a half hours later, I had logged on to all of those sites and created new passwords. It was easier on some sites than on others.

One of the things I discovered when going through this exercise was that some of the web sites were now defunct. Others still existed but didn’t recognize my logon credentials because it had been so long since I had logged on. I was able to delete all of those sites from my list. This is in addition to the many sites whose accounts I have removed over the past few years as I tried to shrink my electronic footprint.

There are still over 300 sites on which I have user ids and passwords. I am happy that my passwords have been diversified, but I still feel very vulnerable to have so many logons. I’m sure I am not alone.